Xco Racing Tactics

Would really love to hear from @Jonathan and other cat 1s on this one.

Wondering if you have any tips on xc race tactics or tips.

A couple of mine I have picked up over a couple years of racing including pacing myself back a bit on a 2 track climb, if it’s wide enough to attack at the top where everyone’s tired after climbing.

Another one is if I catch up to someone mid, or towards the end of the race I’ll sit on their wheel for 4-15 seconds and let them tire themselves out trying to “outrun” me before I finally vocalize that I’d like to pass. This way they are too tired to catch back up to me hopefully for the rest of the race. It also gives me a small chance to let my legs rest, and catch my breath before I attack up to the next person.

Another tip I’ve found helpful is making sure my spd pedals are horizontal at the start line. I’ve had better clip in luck off the gun since I started intentionally doing this.

One last little one: if I use gels (I use Clif) I’ll do just a micro tear at the top, and then duct tape around the top to the top tube of my bike. This way when I go to grab the gel mid race, it opens itself up for me, and also, the top of the gel is still taped to the bike so I don’t have to worry about it getting littered onto the racetrack.

Let’s hear some of you guys tips or tactics.


Here are a couple of videos I like on MTB race tips.


I’ve always made sure to try and be the one leading into single track sections if I’m racing in a group. Having that clear section of trail in front of me means I can ride it that little bit faster and recover more in the corners. This means that when the course opens up again, I can get on the gas to exploit the gap

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Anyone do any specific training to race starts? Since the lead out to single track is SO important

Yep standing starts in the right gear and practice hard starts. Go hard get your clipping in technique down, hard sprint and settle into threshold or higher for a while. Rinse and repeat.

Distance can be the specificity. Some races have long sprints to the single track and some have short


For sure and especially in the month before the race season begins. Outside before a trail ride and after a good warm up, I’ll do a mock start and go almost all out for a few minutes then settle into a hard effort to the first 10 mins. Then I continue on with my trail ride. I may repeat this a few times that ride and in the preceding weeks before a race.

It’s great practice for clipping in, knowing which gear you prefer to start in and getting the body and mind used to starting hard.

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